Our late Bengal cat Pippin
I never had to make the decision to euthanize a pet until recently. And I kept hoping that Pippin, our Bengal cat, would go in his sleep. He would have been 15 years old this December.
The Bengal is a fourth generation descendent of the Asian Leopard. We bought him when he was four months old from a breeder in Raleigh, NC. He was a Snow Bengal with a beautiful coat similar to the Snow Leopards in the Himalayas. The breed is intelligent, social, loves heights, and quickly took charge of our home. He slept with My Favorite Yankee and me and spent lots of time in our laps. He greeted guests when we entertained. When we left him to travel, he fussed and pouted when we returned.
Pippin enjoyed good health until this last year when he developed what our vet called Geriatric Organ Disease. His heart was enlarged and his kidneys began to fail. He kept losing weight. Dehydration became an issue and we had a couple of trips to the vet for fluids. He would bounce back but the last time, the bounce lasted only a week. The hiding behavior started with retreats into the garage where it was warmer. His kidneys started shrinking. Our vet said it would soon be time for “a conversation.”
I took to Google to read everything I could about how to determine when euthanasia was warranted. The best advice I read was to ask your vet what she would do if it were her own cat. I did and my vet was wonderful. She told me it was time and told me a couple of stories about her own cats. One Thursday night soon after, I realized that Pippin was not himself. The Yankee had been out with his Poker group and when he returned, I told him that we needed to call the vet the next day. He sadly agreed.
They worked us in the next day. We took Pippin in his carrier and they called us into the exam room. There was a wool blanket on the table. The vet tech took him out of the carrier and wrapped him in the blanket, giving him to me to hold. The vet came in and explained the procedure. She took him and gave him an injection to relax him and returned him to my arms. He lay still as his eyes began to dilate and he never took his eyes off of me. I told him he was going to cross the Rainbow Bridge and described all the things he would see. I told him I would meet him there one day. The vet came back in and said he was ready. She put him on the table and I wrapped my arms around his head. She found a vein in his leg and administered the final injection. Within a minute she used the stethoscope to verify he was gone. I lost it then, began shaking and crying, and had to leave the room. My Yankee retained his composure as the vet tech wrapped Pippin completely in a towel. Having already made arrangements for cremation, we then drove home to our silent and empty house.
The next day, we knew we could not stand the emptiness and silence and went to a movie and early dinner. When we came home, I kept expecting Pippin to appear around the corner, to find him standing at the refrigerator begging for food, or to jump up in my lap when I was busy on the computer. His presence is everywhere.
We have decided to get another cat but we are going to wait four to six months to grieve this one and hopefully be able to emotionally engage completely with a different cat. The knot of grief is in my stomach and my heart feels very heavy. I am afraid that I do not hide my sadness well. I never realized it would be this hard. But there is tomorrow and the day after that. I am by nature an optimistic person and look forward to the day when I can think of Pippin and smile in my memories.